There was an earthquake on the East Coast yesterday that apparently caused some minor damage but no loss of life. So, in terms of natural disasters, this was a pretty easy one to cope with.
Still, my first reaction when I heard about it was, “WTF? An earthquake on the East Coast? Aren’t those supposed to happen here, on the West Coast?”
I know, I know, earthquakes can, and do, happen anywhere, even on the East Coast. But here in the Vancouver area, the very idea of earthquakes is in your face. A lot. Every time there is a major earthquake in the world, our media here falls all over itself speculating on when it will happen here and are we prepared. We accept the fact that it’s not a question of if, but when. I’ve been hearing all that my whole life, and even so, I am not totally prepared with an earthquake kit and evacuation plan. Me and thousands of other Vancouverites.
In fact, I can only recall two real earthquakes that I have experienced here in my lifetime. I’m sure there are more, but they were likely way too tiny to be noticed by someone as unobservant as I am. Or maybe I myself was too tiny to notice them.
Anyway, the first earthquake I remember was at about 2 am, one summer when I was 18 or 19. I had just come in from my job as a server in a local restaurant. My bedroom was in the basement, and I had come in through the basement door and had just entered my bedroom. There was a low rumbly sound, and I staggered a bit. The mirror on my dresser was clunking around at the same time, and I realized that my window curtains were swaying quite a lot. I thought, “Is this an earthquake?” Then it stopped. I stood there, confused. My dad opened the door at the top of the basement stairs and called down to me, to see if I was okay. “Yeah. Was that an earthquake?” I called back. My dad affirmed that it was, I said “Oh”, we said good night. He shut the door and I got ready for bed then jumped in and fell asleep immediately.
It appears to have not been a very traumatic event in my life.
The second one was about ten years ago, in late April I think, and I was at work. I was in the Grade 7 classroom, talking to the kids about our upcoming big trip to Québec. The classroom teacher had a director’s chair at the front of the room, and that’s where I was sitting as I was explaining a few things that the kids needed to know. Suddenly, the stuff that was on the shelves underneath the windows and the windows themselves started to rattle. A book fell off a shelf at the back of the room. And I, perched in the director’s chair, swayed back and forth alarmingly. It all stopped as abruptly as it had begun. We were all silent for a split second. One of the kids asked, “Was that an earthquake?” Brilliant me responded, “I don’t think so.” The classroom teacher interjected, “Oh, I think it was.” Then the kids erupted with excitement and chatter about surviving a real earthquake. After a few minutes of that, we went back to our discussion about Québec.
So maybe I’m not the person you want with you in case the earth starts shaking … because apparently, I can’t really tell whether or not it IS an earthquake. But then again, apparently they don’t bother me a whole lot, so maybe my role is to be the calm voice in the centre of the chaos.